Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Howling (2)

I wake to find John’s face staring at me. Rails line my bed and a swivel table looms above me with an interesting array of mystery food items positioned neatly on a green tray. John’s eyes are a mix of anger and regret. Anger because I have put us all in grave danger. Regret because he did not stop me from taking his motorcycle.

“Looks like you won’t be coming to the mountains with us.” He says with a gleaming smile full of teeth. “You’ll miss our first hunt with Maria.” Maria is John’s new mate. They have set the wedding date for a month from yesterday. This will elevate John’s status among us.

“Such a pity.” I know that there is sarcasm in my voice and I don’t care. I don’t see a reason for me to like Maria. John took a trip back to the mountains of Canada several weeks ago to visit his family. He returned last week with a dark-haired beauty on his arm. I could instantly tell that she was one of us: half human and half wolf. I could tell that she was going to fit in with no problem and yet make our group different in so many ways. She was lovely and nice. She had given me no reason to hate her. No reason other than the mutual love between her and John.

Since John had found his mate first, he would be elevated to the alpha position – a position that I would have inherited if we had stayed in Canada. Since we had agreed unanimously to start our own pack and move to the city of Charleston that meant that anyone was able to attain the position of pack leader. John had done just that by finding his mate first. He would be our alpha and she would be his – forever. His children would inherit the title and it will leave my line forever. My father will be even more disappointed in his only child.

“You’re going to have to accept her, Molly. She’s going to be a part of our family.” John tells me, pushing a strand of dark hair behind my ear.

“I know that. I’m just being petty. It’ll pass.” I tell him. I realize that I am acting like a child, but I can’t help it. My feelings are running rampant and I feel like I have no control over them. “I hope anyways.”

“It will.” John says, in a soothing voice.

“But, why won’t I be joining you?” I ask, the realization of his initial words finally sinking in. I love the three day trip to the mountains to phase from human to wolf. I look forward to it each month. I don’t want to miss it.

“Because you won’t be healed enough to survive in the wild. We’ll leave you on the island.” John replies, as though it should be obvious.

“But my bones are already healing.” I argue. “In fact, they are mostly healed now.”

“The full moon’s only two days away, Molly. We leave in a couple of hours. You won’t be ready by then.” John points out. His fingers trace the dates on the calendar posted near the bed. It has been a whole day since I stole his bike and wrecked it.

“So I won’t be phasing this month?” I feel a pout coming to my lips. I try to fight it. I can’t let him see me weak.

“You’ll be healed enough by midnight to phase.” John tells me. “That’s why we have to figure a way out of here.” His hands motion around the room. I can tell by his voice that there is no conceived plan for an escape.

“The doctor.” I say in a whisper.

“What about him? He can’t help you now. Your body will finish the healing process. You know that no drugs or technology could work faster.” He wears a puzzle of confusion on his face.

“I know that.” I respond quickly. “But maybe he could help me escape.”

“He’s human, Molly. He’s not going to just let you walk out of here. It’s bad enough that your bones were almost healed when you arrived here. You’re lucky he knew to re-break them or you would be a pretzel right now.” John recounts what he knows of the emergency room for me.

“He didn’t know. I told him to re-break the bones, John.” I inform him, feeling in some of the gaps in his story. “He listened.”

“And you think he’d help?” John asks, surprised by my blatant trust in a complete stranger. I can’t explain it, even to myself, but I feel compelled to trust this human that I have barely met.

“I do. Could you be a good dog and fetch him for me?” I tease lightly. He quickly hurries away.

Moments later, a doctor appears in the room. For the first time, I am able to see my savior with my own eyes. The smell of Crest has been replaced with a husky cologne. He looks to be in his late twenties. His hair is dark and freshly showered. I’m guessing that he just arrived for duty.

“May I help you Miss Brekenridge?” He looks at me, carefully surveying my body. John has not accompanied him.

“I need to get out of here soon.” I tell him, motioning for him to come closer.

“How soon?” He asks as he crosses the room to stand next to the bed.

“By midnight.” I watch his face for a reaction and find that there is none.

“Why?” He isn’t going to make this easy.

“Because I have something important to do. Something that can’t be postponed.” I answer, trying to evade anymore questions.

“And you want me to help you?” A lopsided smile is forming on his face. I can see pearly whites between his lips. “You’re not scheduled to be released for another two days, Miss Brekenridge.”

“It’s Molly and I know that Dr. Sinclair.”

“Call me James.” His reply is short and hurried. “If I’m going to help you out of here, then we’re going to have to be on first name basis.” The smile is back as he hurries for the door. He is gone before I even have a chance to say anything.

I sit alert, listening to every little sound, while I wait for him to return. Feet are hurrying by in the hallway as doctors and nurses rush from one room to another tending to their patients. I can hear coughing several rooms down and a couple having a teary reunion. Further down, in the waiting room, I can hear my group of friends talking about their upcoming trip. Six will be going on this trip as always; except my spot in the van will be filled by Maria. Footsteps continue to hurry in every direction. I can make out one pair of feet approaching the door of my room.

His husky scent enters the room before he does. I breath it in, trying to remember every ounce of this moment. This will quite possibly be the last time I see him and I want to remember it forever. There is something remarkable about this human. Something different.

“Put this on.” He tells me, pulling a long white lab coat from behind his back. A forged name badge reads Mrs. Sinclair, RN. I slide the coat on and look him in the eyes.

“Is your wife a nurse?” I ask, curious as to why he has used his own last name for the badge.

“No. I just couldn’t think of any other last name to use. I guess you would call that a mind blank.” He replies, placing a stethoscope around my neck. “Follow me.”

I follow him out into the hallway. My bones seem to be completely healed and I have no trouble keeping up with him. He leads me to a back elevator and pushes the down arrow. He politely asks how I’m feeling and I reassure him that I am doing just fine. The elevator arrives and we ride it to the ground floor. It’s crowded so we neither one bother to speak, barely even making eye contact.

I follow him across the busy emergency room and out into the parking lot. He pauses for a second, checking behind him to make sure I’m fine. We continue until we’re about mid-way through the parking lot. My friends are waiting to take me home. They are parked in the darkest corner of the lot under a large tree. All of their eyes are staring intently and I am sure their ears are listening as well.

“Here’s your coat, Dr. Sinclair.” I say, peeling the coat from my body and reaching it across to him, making sure to keep my distance.

“Keep it.” He says, with a smile. “I have plenty.” I start to turn away but change my mind. There is still one more question that I want answered.

“So, what does your wife do?” I ask.

“I’m not married.” He says in the simplest of tones. “What does your husband do?”

“I’m not married.” I mirror his comment and tone of voice.

“In that case,” his eyes light up. “Can I take you to dinner tomorrow night?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m busy. Maybe some other time.” I let him down as gently as I can. Things could never work between us. Werewolves and humans aren’t meant to be compatible. We might live in the same city, but our lives are in two completely different worlds. Worlds that aren’t meant to merge.

I turn to leave. My friends are still waiting patiently for me. I know that they will be heading out soon. I feel a hand grasp mine from behind. It is cool and firm. An electric current shoots through my body as our skin met. A small slip of paper is nestled between his fingers and he smoothly slips it between mine. It is over in an instant. He is headed back inside and I continue to join my friends. I can feel the raised paper from where he had written his phone number for me.

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Creative Commons License
Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Descendant (1)

I didn’t know where I came from or how I became this way. I didn’t know if I was born like this or if it had been a freak accident. In truth, I didn’t know much about myself at all. I knew that sixteen years ago, I was born, but I couldn’t have told you the month or day. I knew that for fifteen years I had been shuffled through the system from one foster family to another. I knew that one year ago something changed and my foster family had sent me away to an institution for my own health and safety. I knew that two weeks after arriving at that institution I flew out the window. The one thing in my life that I was completely sure of was that no one had ever been out there looking for me before. The one person who was had already found me. Now there were supposed to be eight people out there who needed me and that needed to locate me.
Soaring swiftly through the lush green trees of springtime, descending gracefully beside the oblong man-induced lake, I landed without a sound. This area had been deserted for months – ever since I got here. Through the dense trees there was an opening, a hill above a small town. On that hill there used to be a castle, it was pretty and sometimes I would perch on the window ledge, but that castle burnt to the ground. At least the majority of the structure was engulfed and destroyed by the flames, one tower still remains standing.

I still fly over to the opening from time to time because I like to people watch. Humans are fickle creatures that bicker and argue because they cannot decide what they truly want. Birds are simple creatures that glide through the air to reach their destination. Outlining their days and nights by the rising and setting of the sun, they act for themselves and for survival. I dread the day when I have to join with the humans and fulfill my fate. A year ago, I met my very first living relative. Some time ago, my entire life changed.
I was perched on the window ledge of that castle tower, when a young man came into the room, slammed the door, and threw a book upon the ground. I watched as he cursed and seethed with anger. From what I could gather, a girl had disappointed him in some vital way. He stomped around the room for half an hour before settling into an overstuffed plush chair.

“What am I supposed to do now?” He shouted at the empty room. “They’ll never realign and when they do there will be no one to replace me!”

Taking a chance, I flew into the room and landed on the arm of his chair. Startled, he jumped up. Frightened, I flew out the window and didn’t stop until I was by the lake again. Perched on the edge of a wooden bench, I spread my wings out wide and stretch my body as tall as it would reach. Five seconds later, I was standing beside the wooden bench, a naked girl exposed to the world, but with no one around to notice.

The very first time I shifted from human to bird, I scared myself and the few other people around me who then proceeded to send me to a mental clinic. The change comes naturally now as long as I focus my attention. Each time I shift, the process becomes easier. For me it’s not so much a physical experience of changing from one shape to another, but rather a magical one. For years, I thought I was a shape shifter. In a way, I am.

That was the first human interaction I’d had in a couple months and it was like the relapse of an addiction. Once I’d had the taste again, I wanted more. A couple days passed and I went again, getting a little closer to the angry man and then flying away. I repeated this process for about four weeks. The final trip I made to the castle was life altering.

Without stopping to land on the window sill, I flew straight in, landed on one of the numerous tables and twittered loudly. The young man, who had introduced himself during one of our interactions, come over and shook my claw.

“And how are you today?” He asked, sitting himself down on the desk chair.

I chirruped a response and flew over to him. Pecking him softly on the hand, I obtained his full attention. Multiple times I soared around the room, then stopped on the ground in the middle and flapped my wings in a rapid action and then disappeared behind one of the large chairs. Trying to stay focused, I concentrated all my energy on the transformation. A blinding light flashed before my eyes and I stood up behind the chair. Lucky for me, the chair had an extremely high back so the only parts of me that were exposed were my shoulders and head.

“What the…” The young man stood there, stunned, but not completely in shock.

“Hi.” The first word out of my mouth in a year was rough and foreign sounding to my ears.

“You.” Cocking his head to one side, his eyes seemed to be formulating an explanation for what they’d just witnessed. “You’re a Carialle.”

“A who?” I asked baffled by his lack of alarm.

“You don’t know what you are, do you?”

“No.” I confessed.

Shaking his head, the man said we had a long day ahead of us and went to find me some clothes to wear while we talked. When he got back, I put the clothes on, feeling awkward and wondering if I’d done the right thing in sharing my secret. He gestured toward a chair opposite from him and I sat down.

“I’m not sure where to start.” The young man admitted. “I have a few questions first if that’s okay with you.”


“Where are you from and how old are you?”

“I’m sixteen but I don’t know where I’m from. I don’t know much about myself.” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“That’s fine. I’m going to tell you some things that might startle you. Are you prepared to keep these things secret forever?”

“Yes. I don’t have anyone to tell.” I informed him matter-of-factly.

“Magic exists in all different forms and ways. What you just did, I can do that too, but not for as long because I have less Carialle in me-”

“Carialle?” I interrupted him, curious about the word he kept saying.

“Yes. Carialle. This is the edited version to save time, but some of the magic in this world originated in another world – Aurum, but it accidentally made its way into this world and now those responsible can’t find a way back to Aurum. A Carialle, what you are, is kind of like the legendary shape shifter except that a Carialle can choose to be any being; they aren’t just humans who can become different things for a limited amount of time. Does that make sense? Any questions at this point?”

“What are you?” I asked him, relieved to know that I had finally found someone who wouldn’t run screaming from my deficiencies.

“I’m a mixture of things. I can shape-shift and astroproject amongst other things.” He said with complete honesty.

“Wow.” I was stunned.

“You seem to be taking the idea of magic existing without much hesitation.” The young man observed.

“I kind of figured that magic was real. Or that I had been in some freak accident.”

“So what else do you want to know?”

“Can I use some of these books for research?” I asked him pointing to a shelf behind me.

“Sure, but one at a time because other people are using them.” He offered.

Picking out a general book, titled Magic, I left the castle and returned to my home by the lake. I spent the next four days reading every book in that tower that I could get my hands on. When I was returning the last book, my newfound friend had even more that he wanted to share with me. Under no circumstances could I have foreseen what I was about to learn.

~Part 2~

Creative Commons License
Descendant by Crystal MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Howling (1)

I had known that I shouldn’t take John’s motorcycle, but that hadn’t stopped me. I had been too angry to listen to the voice of reason inside my head. John had found his true love – his mate for life. This meant that my life was ruined.

Instead of rationally thinking about the consequences, I had dived right into John’s garage searching for the motorcycle that I knew was in there. I had straddled the bike and taken off in a matter of minutes. The bike had twisted and sped through town, roaring beneath me. I had been reckless and caught up in my thoughts. I had missed the headlights looming bright in front of me.

The sound of metal crushing still echoes in my head. I can feel that my body is wrapped around the bike’s twisted frame in a grotesque fashion. I can feel the breaks in the bones throughout my body. Only my right arm has come through unscathed.

I silently survey my body. A broken arm, two broken legs, a broken rib or two. I try desperately to move my neck, which is uncomfortably positioned between two tires. I barely move it when I hear a slight snapping of the bone. Seems my spine is a bit damaged too. I am going to have to stay put since I’m wedged between the tire of a semi and John’s totaled bike.

I can hear an ambulance racing down the street. Seconds later I hear footsteps on the pavement and two men talking.

“No one could have survived that crash.” A voice says.

“Is s-she O-K?” A voice stammers. The footsteps are shakily coming towards the rubble of the motorcycle. I picture how my body must look. The goal is to remain still. I can’t risk frightening anyone.

“Fred here will check you out over at the ambulance, sir.” The first voice says, trying to remain calm. “Let us take care of the rest.” More sirens are sounding in the distance – a fire truck and two police cars. I can hear the man approaching the rubble slowly. My guess is that he is checking for any fuel leakage that could put him in danger.

I hear his boots stop by the bike. He bends over its twisted frame, gasping as he gets a look at my body. It must be worse than I thought if it shocked the EMT. He reaches two fingers to my neck, checking for a pulse.

“Fred! Fred!” He shouts into the distance. The sirens are getting closer. “Come quick! I need another set of hands.”

“Why?” Fred sprints across the road, his feet sounding on the pavement.

“She has a heartbeat.” The surprise in his voice is understandable. Any normal human wouldn’t have survived a crash between a motorcycle and an eighteen-wheeler.

“She does?” Fred is incredulous as well. He reacts quicker than his counterpart though. “Let’s get this bike off of her then.” The sirens stop and more feet join the pavement, their footsteps beating rhythmically in my head.

It takes four men to lift and twist the bike off of me. My bones groan as they move with the bike. They hurt less with each second and I find myself worrying about the shape that I will be in when I come out of this disaster.

“We need to get her into the ambulance.” Fred’s voice sounds in my head once more as I hear a stretcher clanging to the ground. The wheels clatter along the cement and stop inches away from me. I am rolled onto a plastic board and feel something close around my neck. Three sets of hands lift me onto the stretcher and everything goes black as a sharp pain shoots through my back.

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When I regain consciousness, I cannot pinpoint the time of day or the location of my body. For all I know, I have been pronounced dead and placed in a morgue somewhere. I can just make out a bright light shining beyond my eyelids and feet hurrying around me. A pair of gloved hands is going up and down my body, checking for breaks and other damage.

“It’s incredible.” A deep voice breathes. “Her bones are already starting to heal. They’re healing wrong but they’re healing.” His voice was barely audible to a human ear, but I can make it out as though he had spoken the words clearly. “She should never have survived that crash.”

“Doctor?” A female voice asks. “What do we do next?”

“I’m not sure.” He answers sincerely.

“He’s too young to be handling this. They should’ve put a more trained surgeon on the case.” A voice whispers across the room.

“He was the only one free. Sometimes you have to take what you can get.” A female voice murmurs in return.

“Her bones are already healing. I guess we’re going to have to set them as they are.” The doctor says under his breath. I can smell Crest on his lips as he speaks.

I fear for the shape I am twisted into. I can not allow my bones to set as they are. I wiggle the fingers on my right hand before reaching it up to meet his. I expect him to jump. He doesn’t. He stands perfectly still, allowing my hand to grasp his.

“Re-break them.” My voice comes out harsh and dry. He leans closer to hear what I am trying to say. I repeat myself. “Re-break them. Then set them fast.”

There had been enough broken bones among my friends in the past 22 years that I knew what had to be done. My bones would heal and they would heal quickly, no matter what shape they were in. The only way to restore my shape was to re-break the bones and set them quickly.

A pain shoots through my body as the doctor cracks my left arm. I can feel the extra strength he had to use. Adrenaline is coursing through his body, making the veins in his hands pulse as he works through all of my bones – breaking and setting them to save me. His colleagues whisper many things about the impractical practices he is using at this particular moment. No one moves to help him or to get help. They are all rooted in place.

He finishes my last bone and I lay perfectly still for a moment. My eyes are still closed and my heartbeat is still slow. I can feel the bones molding to join each other and the joints that had once held them together. My heartbeat begins to pick up and I allow myself to drift into a dream world, where everything is the way it is supposed to be.

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Creative Commons License
Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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